In principle, participation in Horizon Europe projects is open to researchers and institutions from all over the world. Consortia comprising at least three institutions from different EU Member States or Associated Countries are eligible to take part. At least one of the institutions in the consortium must be located in an EU Member State. If applicable, exceptions to this rule will be mentioned in the Work Programme. Organisations from other countries can also participate in the projects.
However, whether an institution also receives a financial contribution from Horizon Europe depends on the country in which it is located. In this respect, a distinction is made between EU Member States, Associated Countries and Third Countries.
Participants from countries associated to the European Research Framework Programme will be just as eligible to participate as participants from the 27 EU Member States. Therefore, if the application is successful, Associated Countries will be automatically funded from the Horizon Europe budget, in the same way as Member States.
Negotiations for association to Horizon Europe are currently ongoing. A list of Associated Countries will be made available in the Horizon Europe Work Programme.
A new feature of Horizon Europe is the option of partial association, so that certain countries can be associated with only parts of the Horizon Europe programme.
Countries that are neither European Member States nor Associated Countries of Horizon Europe are called Third Countries. The majority of these Third Countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, as well as Mediterranean countries, are eligible for Horizon Europe funding. A list of eligible Third Countries, which are treated similarly to the provisions regarding Associated Countries, will be published in the Horizon Europe Work Programme. Exceptions will be made in the specific "Topics" in the Work Programmes.
Institutions in Third Countries that are not included in the list may however also participate in Horizon Europe projects, but they will not receive funding unless the Work Programme specifically requires it or the European Commission considers the participation of the Third Country partner in the project concerned to be indispensable (case-by-case decision).
Counter-financing by Third Countries
Partners from non-eligible Third Countries can be funded in Horizon Europe projects if their national research ministries or funding agencies specifically allocate their own funds for this purpose. As soon as such agreements with Third Countries are in place, the European Commission will publish overviews of the counter-financing by selected third countries on the Funding & Tenders Portal.
The EU will also conclude R&D agreements with some Third Countries, defining the research topics and forms of cooperation. In parallel, joint "roadmaps", along which the Work Programmes are to be thematically oriented, are being drawn up with selected Third Countries.
Cooperation with the United Kingdom
On 1 February 2020, the United Kingdom (UK) left the European Union (EU). 31 December 2020 saw the end of a transitional period during which Union law (including the possibility to participate in EU programmes) continued to apply to the UK. The specific provisions for this transition period have been laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement.
On 1 January 2021, the Trade and Partnership Agreement negotiated between the EU and the UK entered into force provisionally (all 27 EU Member States approved the agreement and its provisional application on 29 December 2020).
This agreement also regulates the UK's future participation in EU programmes. The draft Protocol to a Joint Declaration of both Parties mentions, inter alia, the following EU programmes in the field of research with future UK participation:
- Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2021-2027, with the exception of EIC Fund financing instruments under the EIC Accelerator)
- Copernicus Earth Observation Programme (as part of the EU Space Programme)
- Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community, EURATOM (2021-2025)
- ITER Joint Undertaking for the Development of Fusion Energy
Under Horizon Europe, legal entities from the UK can also participate in institutional partnerships (actions under Article 185 or 187 TFEU) and in indirect/direct actions of the Joint Research Centre (JRC). In addition, (further) participation in European research infrastructure consortia (ERIC) will be made possible.
As of 2021, the United Kingdom will no longer participate in Erasmus+ and will instead offer its own academic mobility programme ("Turing Scheme"). With a budget of around EUR 112 million, this programme is due to start in September 2021 and will enable students at UK universities to study abroad worldwide.
Global Talent Visa
The free movement of people between the EU and the UK will also end with the expiry of the transition period. The UK introduced the immigration category "Global Talent Visa", which also applies to researchers, for access to the labour market on 20 February 2020. According to the Trade and Partnership Agreement, short-term professional stays for certain activities (e.g. for research purposes) will continue to be possible without a visa.
Impact of Brexit on Horizon 2020
The following provisions apply to Horizon 2020 and other EU programmes (under the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020) based on the Withdrawal Agreement:
- Legal entities in the UK remain fully eligible to participate and receive funding as coordinators and partners for ongoing projects in Horizon 2020.
- This also applies to projects (in all Horizon 2020 funding streams) with a duration beyond the end of the transition period on 31/12/2020.
The UK Research Office (UKRO) in Brussels provides an up-to-date compilation of all relevant information on UK participation in the EU programmes for research, innovation and higher education in a factsheet linked on its website and it is also available for corresponding queries.